Thursday, September 8, 2011

YOU, online

I've literally been trying to write this post for 3 days now...

Natalie Whipple has talked about this a bunch of times.

Nathan Bransford recently posted on it... well as the agent Rachelle Gardner.

I also touched on this subject in one of the first posts I ever wrote (which does includes a brief glimpse into the most cynical opinion on art you'll ever find...), but let's talk a little more about authenticity online.

I think most people, if you ask them, would say they are being themselves online/on their websites/blogs/etc, but others might come to the site and say, 'This person isn't authentic.'

Just like, if you meet someone new at a party or wherever, you may get the feeling they're putting on an act for you. Fake smile, overly polite, that tone of voice... you know what I'm talking about...

But we all put on acts. That's just part of social consideration.

Would you want to be around someone who said exactly what they were thinking every moment? Or a person who feels the weight of the world is on their shoulders and complains constantly. When someone asks you, 'How are you?' do you answer back, 'well, if these haemorrhoids would go away, that'd be just peachy.'

Just like with new people we meet in real life, we feel out our audience. Someone throwing too much personal information (or complaints) at you can be disconcerting and usually, it turns you off.

Also, what kind of person you meet and what kind of relationship you want with them will change how you present yourself. If you're meeting a blind date, you're going to act differently than if you bump into an 85 year old woman in the grocery store, or you meet your new boss for the first time, or if you have a job like a lawyer, doctor, etc and you run into one of your new clients/patients on the street.

I don't have a big online presence. I don't use Twitter, Facebook, etc. Other than this blog, I'm essentially invisible. Up until a few months ago, I rarely even read blogs or consistently followed websites, so I'm still trying to feel out the social rules of this new form of meeting people (give me a slap with a rolled-up newspaper if I do something wrong).

I thought long and hard before starting this blog... what did I want out of this online relationship? What do I want? Because it's inevitable that what we want will change over time.

So, if depending on the relationship affects the way we display ourselves, and that is normal social consideration, how does that affect this blog in particular?

I did address this a little in the first entry I ever posted, but (since it's a little ramble-y) to summarize, I decided to go online to meet other people with the same interests. Because I don't work a traditional job (I renovate the house we live in, then we sell it and I do it again, hence 'the witch's hut' I occasionally refer to), I don't interact with a lot of people, other than the customer service crew at the contractor desk in Rona/Home Depot and the occasional tradesman. Sure, I get out once in a while for dinners, see my writing group a couple times a month and catch the ferry to the mainland to see friends/family, but even those relationships require *social consideration* because (especially with family) having the same interests is a rarity. Especially the writing thing. Sure, my family and friends all read, but none of them write, so if they do read a book, they aren't interested in dissecting the story to find what worked well and what didn't work well. They either 'liked it' or 'didn't like it'.

I think the main reason this entry took 3 days to compose is because I value honestly over any other character trait. If someone asks for my opinion, sure, I might sugar-coat it a little once in a while, but I will always give a straight answer. Even if it's not what they want to hear. I figure, if someone values my opinion enough to ask, then I'm going to return that show of respect and be truthful.

Since my primary objective was to meet people with similar interests, I've intentionally shown that side of my online. My interests, the way I think, books and movies I like, my sense of humour, what I'm curious about... all that kind of stuff. Even things I hold back in real life relationships, like the fact I'm dyslexic or that I get voraciously obsessive about certain things.

The things I intentionally don't talk about always have to do with maintaining the privacy of people I know in real life. I try not to use their names, nor do I discuss the relationships I have with them. That also includes former jobs/etc. I also try not to discuss things I don't like because, just like in real life, I don't think there's any excuse for dumping complaints/rants online and subjecting other people to that. Negativity is like a cancer. And I'm not exaggerating... there are a ton of studies relating to health/etc. Besides, just because I don't like something, it doesn't mean someone else won't love it... and my opinion isn't worth any more than anyone else's. If I can have real life friends with different ethnic backgrounds, different religious, different political views, different sexual orientations, etc, then there's no excuse for not befriending all different kinds of people online.

I strongly believe that no difference is insurmountable as long as one person respects the other.*

So far, I'd say my little online adventure has been a success... I've met a few really nice people, occasionally correspond with them via e-mail (which is totally awesome!) and found some interesting blogs to follow/read.

What about you guys? Have you thought about why you are online and what kind of relationship you want with those you meet? If you have your own websites/blogs, do you have clear boundaries about what you talk about and what you don't?

*This is the main reason I hate war so much. Because it's when one group of people devalues another group of people. It's only when you consider someone less important or valuable that you can abuse them, take from them, kill them, etc. In any war, that's what the propaganda is about... making the 'enemy' less human than yourself.


  1. I'd agree that your online adventure has been a success. And thank you for the great comments you leave on my blog!

    I have thought long and hard about my online presence. I decided to handle it the way I do most things; by following my gut and being true to myself, adding a smidge of restraint. If I want to comment on something topical, I tweet or FB on my personal page about it, reserving my blog for writing-related content. I have clear boundaries on what I will and won't talk about it, and if you read alot of my status updates and posts, it's pretty clear what I leave out. I have learned to take relationships from where ever they originate. I've been doing the online chatting thing since 1994 so it is just accepted part of my life now.

  2. @ Amy

    I ALWAYS enjoy your SSS ...though I do resent that you hop around and tease us with bits from different chapters ;)

    Wow! Since 1994! ...that's incredible...

  3. I have a facebook page that I visit occasionally. Not as active there as I used to be, though I'll add an update here or there to promote something for an aspiring author or if the itch hits me...not often though.

    My blog is my biggest presence. I try my best to keep things to the topic of writing, books and movies/TV. That is the relationship I want to have, one that deals with my passion as well as build my presence for when it comes time to market my materials (God I'm hoping that's much sooner than later). I want to meet other writers, interact with readers, exchange thoughts about the industry and learn more about de-mystifying the trek to publication.

    In doing this, I can wax poetic, spearhead a moment of encouragement or throw a brief tantrum...or at least that's what I do because I want my online presence to be as comfortably real as possible. There are things, as you mentioned, that are mine and mine alone. That's the way it should be (not trying to pull a Truman Show). I can say that I've enjoyed the responses thus far and I'll end with "Life is like a box of choc-lates, ya never know what you're gonna ge-et."

  4. awesome assessment. I think it always takes a while to really be yourself with new people and that's how it has been for me with my blog (I started blogging back in May) and now that I'm meeting more people and having fun reading other people's thoughts on things it's helped me to realize that I shouldn't be afraid to be myself, and to just have fun. And I agree with you about your personal life, no need to bring the drama into your internet life, I like just discussing writing and book. Some personal stuff every now and then is good, but sometimes it can be overkill.

  5. Yes, I discuss writing but I leave personal stuff out such as family etc. I think you need to draw a line from the start. Thanks for sharing.

  6. You brought up a lot of really good points. I was an internet hermit up until 3 weeks ago. I had my blog, with a few followers, but I didn't make a point of seeking out new people or commenting on things. I just figured people wouldn't care what I had to say, so I didn't really say it. It's nice to have found a voice though, and I'm getting a lot more out of my blog now that I'm putting a lot more in. :)

  7. @ J

    I firmly believe that we get out what we put in :)

    ...I just hopped over and browsed your blog a bit, then bought 'White Cat' after reading your review of 'Red Glove'

    I'm looking to read as many YA books with male protagonists as possible 'cause that's normally what I write :)

  8. Well, the different media I use reflect different boundaries. I've been online for a loooong time though, so I suppose it's more that I've diversified my types of social media to reach out to more readers and writers.

    On Twitter, I'll occasionally mention personal stuff.

    My Facebook and my blog tend to be more 'professional' and focused on stuff related to writing or publishing.

    I definitely want to steer clear of politics and that sort of controversy. For one thing I have a general policy now. I try to not involve myself in any conversation that is an argument even if it isn't 'serious'. A) This avoids unnecessary stress B) It helps me from chewing up large amounts of my very previous free time

    I just want to kind of chill, get to know readers and writers and have a fun/interesting time.

  9. I remember when I wouldn't reach out to anyone when I started my blog. I'm improving now and have also met tons of great people! My blog used to have been about my life and school but now it's more about writing.

  10. I love the honesty of of your post. Bottom line, follow your gut and your heart! :-)

  11. Oh, shucks! I had this really great response, and then when I went to sign into Google, it erased it! Oh well, it was long. In the end, I totally agree with you. Be yourself, and use social media to connect with like-minded folks! Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  12. Lovely, heartfelt post.

    I am myself on twitter, my blogs and so on, but I do not share 'everything'.

    It is nice to be part of a community, especially for a lonely being like a writer, and my online presence addresses that...

  13. Hi 1000th Monkey,
    I enjoyed your post very much!

    I am myself online with my blog, twitter and FB and yet I have clear boundaries and stick to them.

    I enjoy being a part of online communities, and I love how people really respond to authenticity and sincerity.

  14. What wonderful comments. You have a knack of drawing the best out of people.
    My on line presence, and I am on FB for my writing group, is me just not my real name becasue I don't want my RL people to know what I write about. My RL friends don't care about writing, don't ask what I do or what I think. Yeah, some friends. But once I get to know someone really well on line I do tell them who I am.
    the reason I orignally went on line on my space was to meet people I would notver meet in RL. And I have. You are one of them. I have fabulous on line friends who are more real than RL ones.
    Then i got into writing. And it's been wonderful. You don't have to know my real name just me and you do
    I have to finish the e mail to you so I shall stop this now
    oh yeah, someone in one of my classes said most e mails are two lines. Perhaps that is true for RL friends, but with on line friends we all write pages


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